National Geographic : 2009 Apr
INSIDE GEOGRAPHIC PHOTO: BRENT STIRTON, REPORTAGE BY GETTY IMAGES UPDATE Good News for Gorillas Last July National Geographic (left) reported on a dire situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park. In 2007, as a warn- ing to the warden who'd thwarted a thriving illegal charcoal trade, local men killed seven of the park's mountain gorillas. Only 720 of the animals are left in the world. Soon additional violence in the park between rebels and government troops drove out Virunga's rangers entirely, and the mountain gorillas were left unprotected. Now the rangers are back. Virunga park director Emmanuel de Merode negotiated their return with rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. "It's a case of conservation ahead of politics," says photographer Brent Stirton, who has long covered the conflict. And the conserva- tion news is good: Rangers discovered that five gorilla babies had been born in the 15 months since they'd last seen their charges. Documenting recent gorilla births in Virunga National Park, ranger Innocent Mburanumwe meets a new arrival.